Car accident causes vary broadly, including everything from speeding and distractions to impaired driving. One thing that is often not discussed, however, is how the yearly time changes can affect drivers.
Just last weekend, Daylight Savings Time kicked in and clocks were set ahead by one hour. Though the ongoing ritual of “springing forward” and “falling back” has always had its critics, recent bad news shows these time changes trigger an increase in car accidents. According to a recent study conducted by the University of Colorado Boulder, the number of fatal car accidents jumps 6% during the workweek following a time change – amounting to an additional 28 traffic fatalities.
Researchers reviewed 732,835 accidents recorded through the U.S. Fatality Analysis Reporting System from 1996 to 2017 and found the majority of the additional crashes occurred in the mornings of the week following a time change. This increase can likely be attributed to drivers losing an hour of sleep and being unaccustomed to driving to work in darkness.
The Dangers of Drowsy Driving
According to the National Sleep Foundation, 60% of Americans claim to have driven while feeling tired and another 37% admitted to falling asleep at the wheel. Drowsy driving is incredibly dangerous, in some cases as dangerous as drunk driving. This is because both types of drivers exhibit similar impaired cognitive function, whether under the influence of alcohol or driving after being awake for too long.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), after about 24 hours without sleep, a person’s impairment is equal to a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.10%, much higher than the legal limit in all states. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates 2.5% of fatal crashes and 2% of crashes resulting in injury involve drowsy driving behaviors.
Who Is At Risk?
Though anyone can experience drowsy driving, certain groups of people are more susceptible = than others. For instance, drivers under the age of 30 are most likely to be involved in a drowsy driving accident. This can be attributed to cultural and social lifestyles that demand more time at work, late night socializing, or sleep loss from being a new parent.
Shift workers are also prone to drowsy driving. Many different jobs and industries require staff to work around the clock or keep odd hours. Typically shift work jobs include firefighters, police officers, medical personnel, retail clerks, truckers, pilots, and others. Many will work nights, early mornings, late afternoons, and can keep rotating shift schedules.
Drivers can also suffer from untreated sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and narcolepsy. Drivers with these sleep problems run a much higher risk of fatigued or drowsy driving accidents.
Drowsy Driving Warning Signs
There are several different warning signs that can point to drowsy driving, including:
- Persistent yawning
- Inability to keep eyes open
- Feeling like “nodding off”
- Inability to remember the last few miles of driving
- Missing road signs
- Lane drifting
Lubbock Car Accident Attorney
When a car accident occurs due to drowsy driving, the victims can be left unsure of what to do next. The more serious the injuries are, the higher the cost of medical bills and the lower the chances are of returning to work quickly. At Liggett Law Group, our experienced car accident attorneys help victims gain peace of mind. If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident with a drowsy driver, contact the attorneys at Liggett Law Group today for a free consultation.